"Every year it gets tougher. They are putting in heavier loads, more workouts."
“Basically, you took your lawn chairs and the spectators were the athletes and you just had a good time.”
When Breck Berry describes the 2007 CrossFit Games, it sounds more like a cross between an outdoor festival and a company picnic than the Games we know today. Back then, the CrossFit Jenks owner was just a man who was introduced to the main site by a friend in the military. “I always thought I was in good physical shape. And, I was humbled.”
Now in 2012, Berry, a four-time Games veteran is charging forward to Regionals again. And this time, he’s brought his friends: Team CrossFit Jenks.
52nd ranked Berry and North Central’s 19th highest ranked male, Denver McPhail join Matt Stowers and Anthony Taylor on the male side. Berry’s wife and CrossFit Jenks co-owner Nicole Berry, athlete Kara Paslay, 10th ranked Christina Merlo and 11th ranked Paige Millspaugh round out the women’s half of the team.
Berry describes the camaraderie at CrossFit Jenks as their strongest asset. “We are all strong, well-rounded and good at pretty much all the movements. But we do things together aside from being in the gym. We hang out together. We are all friends and similar in age,” he says. “We just have a good time and we communicate well.”
The combination of community and competition is what first drew Berry into the sport. Following particular athletes on the main site and then trying to best their scores became a passion. “I remember Speal. I remember Everett, OPT and Brett Marshall – all those names,” he recalls. “And that’s who I would try to beat or compete with. So when I got there, (to the Games) I met all these people I’d been competing against. It was a great experience just to go out there and meet everybody.”
Berry placed 5th in 2007.
Although an undeniably strong individual competitor, Berry has opted to go team at the North Central Regional. “Last year’s Regional was an eye opener. The 100s workout really hurt me,” he explains. “I’m getting older, I don’t get enough sleep – there are always excuses. But I figured my shot as an individual is probably long gone. And that is just due to the talent that is out there now. HOA was my first time competing on a team and I learned a lot. So I said, if you all want to do it and go team, I’m all for it.”
The training for Regionals has also been a team event. He credits Millspaugh for the majority of the organizing, but emphasized that everyone has had input in the preparation. Even though he has branded Event 4 “a smoker,” Berry has been pleased with the results when his team practiced the workouts. “We did a full run through. We have a few things that we can tweak and change but overall, we feel pretty good about all the workouts. There are a couple where if we want that top time, we will have to push harder and some of the others we felt pretty confident,” he says. “I’m looking forward to Event 6. It felt good – we flow smoothly together. I like the muscle-ups at the beginning. It’s not too long. Our females are strong on that one; they are fast on muscle-ups.”
What advice does he give to his athletes? Stay calm, focused and confident. “Mistakes will kill you. Always train above and beyond the standards, so when it comes time for competition, you have prepped that. And if they allow something a little easier then shoot, it’s going to be that much easier for you.”
Berry notes the Games have changed since he first competed in 2007. “Every year, it gets tougher. They are putting in heavier loads, more workouts. There were three events in 2007.”
He is pleased with the growth in the community and what it has done for fitness on a broad scale. “I love it. I have a passion for it. I like to compete in it. If you are having a good time and enjoying it, well, that’s what it’s all about. As long as it’s like that for me, I’ll keep doing it every year.”